COLUMN: Offer solution instead of pointing finger

There was an interesting letter to the editor on Nov. 9 titled "Tailgating issues need to be reevaluated by SGA, administration."

I usually respond only to attacks made against students, but this opportunity was too much fun to disinherit. With the strong possibility of a final tailgate experience and many misconceptions floating around, this issue needs to be addressed yet again.

So as Dr. Hyman's official "lap dog," (can I put that on my resume?) let me bite into this and clear the record once and for all.

First, I am on your side! Why would I want to eliminate one of the largest, most fun and popular traditions we have at Ball State? If we had the opportunity to continue tailgating the way it began this season - you bet I would be fighting for it, but we do not have that luxury.

When I was asked by the administration to serve on the task force I was very disappointed because I knew what was going to be talked about. Let me tell you the whole process was very frustrating. We had limited options in these discussions, and we received the best deal the university attorneys and administration could provide.

By far, the most popular decision in the meeting was to completely eliminate alcohol from tailgating. Let me stress this again because it seems to get over looked, the most popular decision in the meeting was to completely eliminate alcohol from tailgating. And up until ten minutes before we adjourned, that was the decision that was going to be implemented. With your two student representatives and other administrators, we were able to keep things alive for the rest of the year. I feel your pain and I know it is not as good as it was, but at least it exists.

Now that we have that out of the way, who are you? I think you forgot to sign your letter. So for the remainder, I will just refer to you as Mr. Tailgater.

I agree with you when you say tailgating does "give the student body a chance to come together in camaraderie and show support for our school." That is why we are supporting and fighting for it. And you are right-"The win streak of the football team is part of the reason for the increase in attendance. Go Cards!"

You go on to say "We support the presence of the police to serve and protect the safety concerns of those in attendance."

But let me make sure I have you correct. You are saying we should tailgate, go to the game, support our team and school, and that the police presence is not a deterrent. Mr. Tailgater, which part of the guidelines do you not like? They provide inexorable support for everything you think should happen on our tailgating conservancy.

As your representative, I am interested in your possible solutions. However, SGA cannot act for you unless we know how and what you would like challenged. I cannot go to the discussion table and demand things change because Mr. Tailgater is pouting. I don't think using the argument that "we have a right to tailgate" will get us very far. We need solutions! Tell us what you are frustrated with so it can be addressed.

I think I am taking a lot of the blame for the guidelines and misconceptions because I have been vocal about the changes. I have been to student organizations actively talking with the press to get the message out. A message that I think is better understood and received from students to students. I did not have to take on the responsibility, but I saw it as part of my duty as your representative.

With the increased police presence, there were opportunities for citations and arrests. I wanted students to be prepared. Does this mean I think the guidelines are perfect? No, but this is the best deal which was much better than the others. But also understand I think changes still need to be made, such as expanding the time limit and decreasing the police presence.

Don't let the guidelines discourage you. Tailgating can still be fun. It all depends on the attitude you put into it. Don't give up so easily. I know the student body is resilient - show it to the administration! If you sit at home during the next game, we lose.

I encourage student support and feedback on this issue because the guidelines are still up for change. Student Senate will be discussing the issue and will continue to make recommendations. It is good to see someone with motivation for a cause, and I encourage your support for Mr. Tailgater's petition. But make sure you only sign it with a solution that can be brought to the table.

Write to Tommy at tbrector@bsu.edu


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